Putting It All Together

One way to test these concepts is to consider how they interact with real questions people have in the world. We’ll look quickly at two— not necessarily to answer them definitively but to uncover, in a real-world context, the com­plexities encountered when asking such seem­ingly simple and obvious questions.

Quick, which bag is better for the environ­ment, paper or plastic (see Figure 2.2)? Are you sure?

Подпись: FIGURE 2.2 Paper or plastic—the eternal question. LEFT IMAGE:

/W http://www. flickr. com/photos/ rosenfeldmedia/3258986460

right image:

/W http://www. flickr. com/photos/ rosenfeldmedia/3258159681

Because even the experts can’t agree. The ubiquitous question asked of shoppers by grocery baggers has been turned around in the past few years as it pertains to environmental choices. These are exceedingly simple options, most often comprising one part and fairly sim­ple manufacturing processes. Their function, too, is incredibly simple and obvious in almost all cases. This makes it an easy question to start with. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Paper

Plastic

Pros

Made from a renew-

Much lighter than

able resource (trees)

paper bag

Biodegradable

Despite being made from fossil fuels, uses consid­erably less mate­rial and releases significantly less greenhouse gas in the manufacturing and transportation

Cons

Trees are renewable

Made from fossil

only if replanted and carefully managed

Biodegradable only if not put in a landfill (basically, nothing in a land fill ever de­grades)

fuels

One camp contends that paper bags are bet­ter because they’re biodegradable and don’t rely solely on petroleum products for their manufacture. They also claim that paper bags don’t pose as much of a danger to wild­fire (which turns out not to be much of a

problem, in actuality[3]). So paper bags must be better.